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Iroquois Creation Myth Essay

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    Throughout this country and across the world indiginous people of their homelands have passed down stories of their peoples Creation. There are many Etiological or the explanations of the Origin of things within these myths. There are also many variations amongst creation myth’s, but all have something in common, a Heaven and an Earth.

    Iroquois are known as “The people of the Longhouse”. They are native to North America which consist of six tribes. Mohawk, Tuscarora, Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida all sharing common culture, and creation begins in the Sky.

    Before the beginning of time Sky Woman and Sky Chief reside in the sky. Sky woman tells Sky Chief of a dream and she is to have twins. Sky Chief is angered, a large storm rips through sky world. The Celestrial tree is ripped from the ground leaving a hole where it once was rooted. The sky chief begins distrust of sky woman. As they look through the hole he pushes her to her decent. As Sky woman falls from sky world animals react and began to scoop up the dirt from the ocean floor and pile it onto a sea turtle’s back as he is the one with a broad strong base. In Sky woman’s hand as she is falling is bits and pieces of plants from the floor of sky world as she fell, they are seeds of the Celestial Tree. Sky Woman is caught in her decent by birds and placed gently on the back of the turtle “Turtle Island” This is the very beginning and known as the Creation of Earth. Sky woman released the roots, plants and seeds she carried, releases them into the dirt of “Turtle Island”. Some of the very first to grow and flourish are the tobacco plant and strawberries. Despite no men are on Earth at this time Sky woman has a daughter…she is named Tekawerahkwa. Tekawerahkwa grows into a young woman and With some time passing Tekawerahkwa, has children of her own. She bares twin boy’s from pregnancy by the West Wind. The twin boys fought constantly while growing in their mother’s womb. During the pregnancy one of the twins grew evil and pushed his way out through her armpit. Tekawerahkwa doesn’t survive this tragedy. Sky Woman buries her daughter and from her burial site grows three plants. Bean’s, Corn and Squash. These plants are sisters now known as the three food spirits. This is how Tekawerahkwa is known to be Mother Earth. She provides for her mother and her two surviving son’s. The boys although twins, displayed differences. The twin boy named Enigorio is right-handed displays goodness. He is referred to as the keeper of the day and the sky world. The good twin creates gentle creatures , beautiful lakes and rivers. Enigorio creates man out of clay and bakes him in fire. He becomes known as “Our Creator “ or Master of Life”.  The other twin boy is named Enigonhahetga. He is left handed and displays evil. He is known as the keeper of the night and the lower world.

    With his evil ways predator’s, dangerous water and terrain are created. He plays a hand in the creation of man. Man now displays both good and evil characteristics.

    Competition is always keeping the two boys at odds…ending with the good twin killing his evil brother. He throws his evil brother of the edge of the earth. The death of Sky Woman’s grandson enrages her. She begins blaming the good son for his death.

    Enigorio can take no more, he kills his grandmother. He continues to dismember her, throwing her head into the sky and her body into the ocean. I’m assuming her body in the ocean brings more life to the ocean.

    This is how Grandmother moon has come to be, and man is left to roam the earth.

    This creation myth is rich is origins and gives us a glimpse into the culture of these tribes. Its clear that these people were wise and keen to deep-seated flaws in mankind. From this story I’ve gathered there is a great respect for women and find the Iroquois to believing women are the source of fertility and growth.

    Charter Theory being externalistic gives narrative that supplies the foundation to ritual or customs in order to help maintain social stability.(Wikiversity) Rationalizing how people function in life is no easy task. These people emulate the easygoing, patient, and wise sea turtle. I absolutely enjoy how natives acknowledge creatures of this earth predating humanity. Sky people and Sky women’s decent into our world also explains to us that the Iroquois believed everyone has good and evil within them. The grandchildren is this story depict how the world is balanced between good and evil. In order for there to be balance these forces must and do exist. Bad things will always happen but as we see in the myth good things arise as a silver lining. The belief that good triumphs over evil have and will always play an important role in the morals and ethics of the Iroquois Nation. The decent of Skywoman creates earth, and her death results in moon… company to the stars. Grandmother moon although a tragic death, is now forever apart of life and everlasting in the cosmos. A closer look into the cosmological aspect – the rise and fall of the moon has correlation to the control of women’s monthly cycle and the control of the waters of the world, or what we know today as the tides.

    Other Etiological findings: earth flourishes from Skywoman’s daughter (Mother Earth), strawberry plants and tabacoo– a key role in iroquois culture as they were the first planted on turtle island. Tabacoo is used widely in their religious ceremonies.

    One etiological finding I enjoyed was the Turtle and “Turtle Island” the Turtle, came to be the earth bearer because of his broad powerful shell. It is said that now when he moves…the sea gets rough and the earth shakes.

    Mankind and creatures roam this earth as equals, which is something that Natives hold close to their heart even today. Without the help of the creatures Skywoman would have nowhere to fall, nowhere to establish the creation of humans and give birth to Mother Earth.

    In some cases, the Iroquois creation story has similarities to the Genesis creation of the world. Celestial beings inhabited the upper world. The twins with contrasting good and evil tendencies, resembles that of Cane and Abel in Genesis. In contrast, the birth of the twins and the birth of Jesus are similar as both Tekawerahkwa and Mary were virgins when they gave birth. As I’ve learned in class this semester there are to many stories to count and contrast to the bible. How does one claim to be the only culture to understand divinity.

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